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Champagne is the northernmost wine region of France, located 90 miles outside of Paris. Its storied wine reputation dates back to the Middle Ages; a few of the top houses, to which so much of the region's fame is owed, have been producing since the early 1700s. As one of the coolest wine producing regions in the world, Champagne is perfectly suited to growing , , and Pinot Meunier at the low sugar/high acid levels necessary for sparkling wines. The region's famous chalk soils not only reflect sunlight back to the vines, helping them to ripen, but also impart minerality to the fruit, giving Champagne its characteristic flavor profile.
Champagne is a challenging place to grow grapes. Winter freeze, spring frost, heavy rains, and cloudy skies in this cool, continental climate are the norm. Growers must manage a high degree of annual volatility in weather and blending across varieties and vintages is required to create consistency in the wines. Despite the challenges, Champagne has an ideal climate and terroir for sparkling wine production. Chalk-dominated soils provide drainage after rainstorms but retain sufficient water during dry periods, and cool weather produces grapes with high acid and low sugar levels, even in the warmest years. In the rare seasons when weather conditions are at their best, wine aficionados across the globe are blessed with vintage Champagne, one of the most age-worthy and delicious wines in the world.
Champagne blends are composed of the region’s three main varieties: , , and . contributes a light body, high acidity, and floral and citrus fruit character to the wine. Pinot Noir adds body and structure along with aromas of red fruit, while Pinot Meunier contributes fresh fruit. Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made from white grapes only, while Blanc de Noirs Champagnes are made with black grapes only.
Young champagne typically displays aromas of pear, apple, lemon, popcorn, vanilla, almonds, and cream. With age, Champagne can impart very complex mineral- and earth-driven aromas. For some of the finest examples, look to the houses of , , , and .Champagne’s high acidity and festive bubbles make it one of our favorite pairings, and match it well with buttery, fatty, and salty foods. Classics include caviar, oysters, clams, creamy cheeses, charcuterie, foie gras, and popcorn.